It was Independence Day yesterday so I figured I should try something slightly United States themed...but because it's not exactly BBQ season here I opted for a combination of two other American favourites, and favourties of mine......Pumpkin Pie (mmmmmm...pie) and baked cheesecake.
I have a great recipe for a simple baked cheesecake that comes from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Kitchen recipe book, and I've been using it ever since I turned vegetarian and suddenly found myself the owner of many a specialist cookbook! I do prefer a baked cheesecake to a gelatin-based, set in the fridge job...it's good to know there are no hooves in my meal, and it just tastes better.
As for Pumpkin Pie, this is something I first got into after reading Judy Blume's "Just as long as we're together", many many years ago. Something about Stephanie's comfort eating of copious amounts of pie obviously appealed to me and now I know why...because it tastes so good!Nothing cures the blues like a good slice of pie. It's one food i find it very hard to stop eating...along with chocolate...and lots of other wickedly unhealthy things..
The other part of this baking equation is a hangover from my childhood, and that is a fascination for things in miniature..such a great marketing ploy...anyway here it means i made individual Pumpkin Cheesecake Pies.
One thing that has always stumped me in American recipes is their use of graham crackers as a base...apparently we just have no equal to whatever a graham cracker may be. In the past I often used malt biscuits, but this time around I went with a more subtle, Kiwi style, Vanilla-Wine biscuit base.
As pictured, I used some muffin cases - designed to give your muffins that authentic cafe look - because they are available fairly cheaply from the supermarket, and its basically just pre-folded baking paper, which helped to keep the whole thing together and not sticking to the muffin tray.
So the biscuit and butter base went in first, followed by the pumpkin-cheesecake layer. I actually only had about half the correct amount of cream cheese (and it was solid as a rock thanks to my fridge, which thinks it's a freezer), but I simply reduced the eggs from 4 to 3, so it wouldn't be too custardy, and then chcuked in an unmeasured amount of of cooked, mashed pumpkin. Now, if i was being truly authentic and US citizen-like, I would probably have got my pumpkin from a can...but instead I just cooked and cooled it myself beforehand. It was about half a pumpkin. I have no idea of weights/measurements...i just chuck things in and if the consistency seems right, away we go.
This filling also contains sugar (i switched to brown because it seemed more suited to the pumpkin), and instead of the usual lemon juice for flavouring i used maple syrup. So this was poured on to the bases and baked for around 20 minutes until they were cute little orangey custard looking things.
Then I had to wait awhile for the pies to cool to room temperature - and for the frozen sour cream to defrost (thank you, mental fridge). Finally it was ready and the topping was whipped up...basically it's just sour cream and sugar, but I used the last (sob) of my vanilla sugar because it has a great flavour and also resulted in pretty little specks of brown vanilla bean in the topping. This is then baked again for about 8 minutes and then...there you have it...oh beautious pie...cheesecake...whatever you are...
Rory very patiently waited and assisted while I photographed the fisnished product....then she plunged in with great enthusiasm. As she told James later, they were very yummy..'and you can't even taste the pumpkin!'. What she means, of course, is that you can taste the pumpkin..but it tastes surprisingly good! Not at all like a vegetable!!